In the September 2013 “Every Needful Thing” newsletter, we included a list of items to pack in an emergency escape bag, AKA your 72-hour kit. Hope you made one! We included some things that can last a long time and others that have a shorter storage time. This month is a good time to pull out the bag and review it’s contents.
- Exchange the food - Did you pack some granola bars and cracker packets? How about some nuts or peanut butter items? Many of these items contain oil of one kind or another that oxidizes or goes “rancid” if kept for over six months. Take out your snacks and eat them – or at least taste them to determine if they are still fit to eat. As you eat them, add these items to a list as a reminder to replace them on your next shopping trip. It’s a real disappointment to open one of these packs and find them yucky. Can you imagine how bad you would feel if you were in an emergency situation and that is all you had to eat? Do you have an 72-hour kit for your children? Are they still eating those “chicken sticks”? Have their favorite snacks changed? Staying up to date on their favorites will make a disruptive situation a little more comfortable.
- Check clothing sizes - This is a good idea for adults as well as children. Kids are always growing and changing sizes, so make adjustments by including some currently fitting and well used clothes for them. Since disasters can happen any time of the year, a bag of extra jackets for snow or lighter weight clothes for warmer weather is a good idea. Adults, include some extra socks, “sweats” or jeans and long sleeve shirts that can be rolled up if necessary,. Rain ponchos are a must, how does yours look?
- Rotate Batteries & Medicines - Do you have battery operated items like two way radios or flash lights in your kit? Batteries leak when stored for a long time and can ruin the item they’re in. Remember to store batteries separately. Prescriptions have expirations. Rotate these, too.
Keep Your 72 Hour Kit Updated
Additional Articles in the April 2014 Issue:
- A discussion of the importance of “duck and cover” in surviving a nuclear attack
- What are your plans to provide protein in your diet in an emergency situation? Here are some items to add to your supplies …
- Are members of your family hearing impaired that might not hear a smoke alarm?
- Our featured contributor this month is Tess Pennington of ReadyNutrition.com. She shares an article about Bio Mass Briquettes. Now you’ll have an environmentally friendly use for those shredded documents.
- Sun Ovens are a perfect partner for bio mass briquettes, here’s how …
- Some of our friends have complained that their yards were so shady that they doubted they could grow anything in a garden. In answer to their questions, here are some plants that can be grown in shade. Don’t give up on your yard either. Read more …
- Speaking of gardening, do you use Epsom salts? Here’s why.
- We can all be prepared to take the initiative to save a life, should we be faced with a life or death situation. Here are three critical first aid procedures that can be accomplished with one dressing.
- Our Solar Chef has included a wonderful recipe for Solar Stuffed Shells. Give it a try, these are yummy.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Last month Survival Summit interviewed Nicole Telkes, an herbalist from The Wildflower School in middle Texas. Her definition has nothing to do with growing marijuana, but rather means foraging for, eating, and growing plants that we may have considered annoying weeds. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can create foraging space, even in urban areas. As people interested in using the plants we have and in conserving our environment, the first step is becoming aware of the plants growing around you. There are lots of useful and edible plants in your neighbor-hood. With only a few plants sprouting as spring begins, it is a good time to acquire a plant identification book or two to study before you start eating wild plants. Learn to recognize the poisonous plants first.* Here are a few edible plants to look for:
- Wild onions and wild garlic – these will have smaller bulbs than garden grown ones and will have a distinctive onion scent. They pack a lot of nutrients. Best cooked in soups.
- Chickweed – as one of the first spring weeds, it has small, white flowers that have five deeply lobed petals, a single row of hairs on the stem and opposite smooth edged leaves. High in vitamins A&C, it is also a good source of iron and anti-oxidants. Can be eaten raw as salad greens or cooked like spinach.
- Dandelions – the leaves, flowers and roots of this ubiquitous plant with toothed edged leaves and yellow flowers are edible. Young leaves are best when picked before the flowers appear. Serve them in salads or wilted with a hot dressing. Flowers can be cooked as fritters, and the roots used for tea.
There are too many people in the US to survive off wild plants. If we needed to forage for 100% of our food, we would need to get creative and very accurate in plant identification. In addition, we would be spending most of our days finding food. That’s why agriculture became so popular. Challenge: make a list of the top ten weeds in your neighborhood. Study them and learn their uses.
*Note: Never eat any part of a plant unless you are 100% positive of it’s identification. Plants along roadsides may have been treated with herbicides. Use common sense and reasonable caution when foraging. As you compare the book’s description with a real plant, do not mentally force the plant to fit the description. This can become a dangerous habit. A good reference is: The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer (http://www.ForagersHarvest.com)
As Shared by Francesca Dodge Taylor
Family Emergency Preparedness
Every year my family has a theme for family home evening. Our theme for 2013 was preparedness. Teaching our children the importance of being prepared, each week we would have an activity, like map reading, remembering directions with land marks, and packing go bags for a quick get away. Our four children range in age from newborn to 12 years old. We included the older three in our projects. For Christmas day, we planned a treasure hunt, which included their daily chores along with some fun.
To mark the clues along the way of the hunt, we cut out picture pieces of scrap wrapping paper and taped them at each location. the clues were drawn and listed by number on the treasure map that we created. The map had to be given a look of authenticity, of course, again adding to the fun of it (also making it harder to read) I tore pieces of the paper off and wrinkled it up to give the aged look.
Making Preparedness Fun
After breakfast, the kids had their choice of opening presents inside or going outside for the “Treasure Hunt.” Even though the morning was cold, they opted for the treasure hunt first. In their footed pajamas, they raced to get their boots on! Then ran to the front door to get their first clue, as they had to use the door to get outside to start the hunt! The second clue was a metal egg basket sitting in front of a bush where our hen likes to lay her eggs, the kids had to collect them. Next, they headed to the back yard chicken coup and let out the chickens and our duck. The fourth clue headed them through a course set up with cones. They all had to keep together and help one another follow directions and weave through the course.
We have a rock climbing wall attached to a tunnel. The next clue was to climb the rock wall together. Don’t you love the teamwork idea? Once at the top of the wall, they had to crawl through a tunnel (sometimes you may need to be brave making an escape.) The tunnel ends in the playhouse, where they found the last clue, a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree. They were so excited, to my surprise, not even noticing the cold outside.
Inside the playhouse, behind the little tree were three brand new, loaded Go bags, customized for each child with survival items they can use. Our son (the twelve year old) got para cord, a tree saw and a head lamp. The girls got fishing poles, astronaut blankets and age appropriate activity books among other things they will need to spend nights away from home. Funny thing, of all the gifts they received for Christmas, they spent the most time playing in their Go bags. (Photos provided by Francesca Dodge Taylor)
The beginning of a new year is often referred to as a new canvas. How will you paint this year? It can also be seen as a time for personal re-evaluation, of goal setting, of creating new habits or rituals.
As you begin this new year, look at your situation. What changes do you want to make? Are you sure? You will need to really want to make these changes – change requires passion. Write them down. Look at your list.
Let’s take the first thing there. Most likely it will require several steps to accomplish. Now write down three steps needed to get you from ”here to there.” Repeat this process with each item on your list. Soon you will see that you have created an action plan for each change you want to make.
Is emergency preparedness on your list? Refer to the September and October issues of “Every Needful Thing” to get the basic needs list. Evaluate where your family is in relation to each of these needs. Make a list of three things that you can improve. Now write three action steps for each. Does this look like a “TO DO LIST?” What on this list can you achieve today?
Accountability is fundamental in life. If you approach each day knowing that you will some day account for your life’s opportunities, you can stay focused. “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” 1 Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination, you can do it, one day at a time. Any progress makes us greater than we were before. Incorporate accountability into your DNA – evolve to be better.
Pick what you can manage to do today. You have 365 days of pure potential in this new year. Create a revolution. Manage it day by day. Write down what you accomplish. Send me a note on how you’re doing along with any questions you may have. We love to hear from you.
Billie Nicholson 2014
1 Thomas S. Monson, Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast, June 2004
During November and December 2013 donations to the Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) SUN OVEN® project were matched dollar for dollar by a private donor. The donations collected for Haiti were $2,235. With the matching dollars, the total amount came to $4,470. This will send 23 Global Sun Ovens® to Haiti. Thank You, generous Sun Oven® customers!
To make a donation on line visit: Help Us Help Haiti
To learn more about our work in Haiti visit:
Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory infection caused by different flu viruses. The major symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and body aches. New Year’s eve saw 67 people in the Portland, OR area alone, hospitalized suffering from a flu strain similar to the 2009 pandemic. Striking middle-aged people, this strain causes an almost comatose sleeping state for hours. It has been identified as a re-assortment of the Avian, Swine and Human strains. With lots of holiday travel and people contained is close quarters, germs can travel far. 1 Since the flu can sneak up on you, your flu emergency kit should include:
- Thermometer – a high fever is one of the first clues that you have the flu. Get a digital one and wash it before and after using. Watch out for a fever that goes away and then comes back. this could mean it has turned into a bacterial infection. Seek medical attention for children who have a fever over 1040F or for adults who have difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, sudden dizziness or confusion.
- Keep your ibuprofen or acetaminophen up to date. These will relieve fever and muscle aches in adults and children over six months. Don’t use aspirin or aspirin containing medicine in children who have cold or flu symptoms. This can lead to Reye’s syndrome. For babies under six months, the CDC recommends only acetaminophen. Follow all label directions closely.
- Decongestant - Use this to treat nasal blockage. For children under age four consult your doctor before giving decongestants. Saline nasal sprays can be used in adults and children to loosen mucus. Decongestant sprays shrink nasal passages. Only use them for a few days and never in children.
- Cough Suppressant - Include this to take at night. Avoid taking this during the day, it is better to expel any phlegm. Be careful when mixing over the counter medications. Some may have the same ingredients, resulting in an overdose. Pediatric cough and cold formulas are not recommended for children under 2.
- Tissues and Hand Sanitizer - Stock up on these. Put every used tissue into the trash as soon as you are finished using it. Runny noses, sneezing and coughing are the main way that flu droplets spread germs. Always cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues and teach kids to do the same. If a tissue isn’t handy cough into your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often with soap and water between tissue uses. Use hand sanitizer gel, if you can’t wash often. A good alcohol based sanitizer should contain 60% alcohol. Keep your hands away from your face. Germs have ready entry through your nose, mouth and eyes.
- Liquids - Stock up on water and other clear liquids. They help restore fluids lost from a fever and help keep mucus secretions flowing. Bottled water may taste better than tap water and may limit the use of glasses and cups. Don’t share it. You can add salt to water (1/2 tsp per 8 ounces) to make a gargle. Sports drinks contain electrolytes that will help avoid dehydration. Include herbal teas and soups. Hot liquids can be soothing. A bowl of broth based soup is easier on an upset stomach and the steam can help loosen mucus. If you’re sick, you probably will not feel like cooking.
- Lozenges - Throat lozenges can soothe a cough or sore throat, but they are not a cure. Many of their ingredients, like honey, herbs, or eucalyptus, have been used for years. Zinc can also help. Studies have shown if taken within 24 hours of symptom onset, it helps reduce the duration and severity in normally healthy individuals. Don’t take more than 50 mg per day.
- DVD’s - Include some comedy DVD’s in your emergency kit. Laughter can be the best medicine.
Influenza vaccines can help stimulate your immune system before you get the flu. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends all children, six months and older get a flu vaccine every year.
Billie Nicholson 2014
Have you heard of “cloud computing?” This is a phrase that describes the concept of lots of computers connected through a real-time network. It gives you the ability to run a program or application on many computers at the same time. It often provides storage space for data that can be accessed, with appropriate passwords, from several locations, keeping business co-workers or family members connected without having to share the same computer.
We all have important documents that we need for identification, like drivers licenses, social security cards, insurance, medical records, and property deeds as well as bank records. Many of these are in paper form. If a disaster occurs that destroys these documents, how do we prove who we are and what we owned?
Enter the cloud. There are a number of services available like Google Drive, Dropbox, and others that offer internet storage space. The beauty of using the cloud is not having to put the same information on a variety of computers. It can be stored on one that is accessible to many.
Let’s use Goggle Drive as an example. Many people already have Google email accounts. The drive can be associated with your email account as a access point. What can you store there? Anything from images of documents, word files, music and family videos and photographs. For emergency preparedness purposes, you can store the following items in digital format:
- Drivers Licenses
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Marriage Certificates
- Health Insurance Cards
- Car Loan Contract
- Insurance Contracts
- Recent Bank, Loan, and Credit Card statements
- Mortgage Agreement
- Property Deed
- Life Insurance Policies
Only you and any people you choose to share access with can get to this information. When you set up this information in the cloud, it is a good idea to keep documents organized in folders. Give at least one other person access to the password.
Billie Nicholson 2014
More information on getting Tech Ready
Keeping warm in cold weather without electricity may mean burning wood. This can be done in a fireplace directly or by using a wood burning stove. These are designed to safely burn wood fuel and provide heat for your shelter. They are connected to chimneys responsible for removing the by-products of combustion, including smoke, gases, tar fog, and water vapor, among other things. As the combustibles exit through the cooler chimney, they condense on the inside. This residue is know as creosote. It is very combustible and when ignited will burn at extremely high temperatures and may damage the chimney, spread through mortar cracks into the
wooden structure of your home, and even spew sparks igniting the roof. To avoid a home fire disaster, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offers the following safety tips:
- Get your chimney checked and cleaned annually to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or chimney obstructions.
- Keep overhanging tree branches at least 15 feet away from the top of chimney.
- Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out.
- Choose well seasoned wood, split for at least 6 months. Store it in a covered and raised location, away from your home foundation. Do not burn Christmas trees, cardboard, wrapping paper.
- Keep the area around your hearth clear. Keep furniture at least three feet away from the hearth.
- Install a metal mesh screen in front of fireplaces that do not have glass doors. This controls sparks.
- When building a fire, place the firewood or fire-logs in the back of the fireplace on a supporting grate. Leave air space when stacking multiple logs, so the fire can breathe. Use kindling or a commercial fire starter to ignite your fire. Never use flammable liquids. Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
- The by-product of burning wood is ash. Softwoods make more ash than hardwoods. Leaving a one inch layer of ash in your stove will make it easier to build and maintain a fire. Hot coals nestling in the ash add more heat to the fuel and reflect heat back into the fire. Ash also protects the floor of your firebox. Do not remove hot ash from you firebox and put it into a paper bag or any other flammable container. Take all ash outside. At the end of heating season, ash should be removed to reduce moisture absorption, which rusts metal parts. Save the ash to add to your garden next spring.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors in several locations throughout the house, putting one outside your bedroom door. Check these batteries twice a year. Over 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by problems in the venting of toxic gases, produced by heating systems. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). This number may be much higher because the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimic other common winter ailments (headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and seasonal depression). Too much carbon monoxide in your blood will kill you. The protein, hemoglobin, in our blood will attach a carbon monoxide molecule and ignore an oxygen molecule. This attachment causes cell suffocation. Even low-level exposure can cause permanent brain and organ damage. Infants, those with blood or heart disorders, and the elderly are the most susceptible.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Learn how to keep your wood stove fire burning during the night.
- If you have a chimney fire, discontinue use of your chimney until it can be inspected and deemed safe to use.
When you are planning a trip in your auto, take time to check your vehicle. In addition to cleaning out the trash, check the windshield washer fluid, oil, water/anti-freeze level in the radiator, and tire inflation. Remember to double check your emergency car kit, updating food and water and adding extra clothing based on the type of weather you expect to travel through. If you have a cell phone, pack it and the charger. Check your wallet for cash and any roadside emergency membership card you may have. Always maintain a half-full tank of gas. Before you leave, contact someone at your destination to let them know your estimated time of arrival.
Once you are on the road, pay attention to your vehicle’s performance, listening for any odd sounds and look for any odd emissions. Once I was traveling home late. I noticed white smoke coming from my exhaust and looked down at the dash to see the temperature needle pegged to overheating. The radiator hose had burst.
If you have a breakdown, use the car’s momentum to get it off the road safely. Try to get over as far as possible to remove your vehicle from on-coming traffic. Put on the emergency flashers. Exit the car from the passenger side door. If you can’t get off the road, set up any warning signals you have, like flares or hazard triangle, as far behind as practical to give other motorists notice to get around you.
Raise your vehicle hood and leave it up, Get out your HELP sign or white cloth. Place it in the window. Use your cell phone, if you have one with service, to contact law enforcement. Calling 911 will put you in contact with help. Your cell phone may or may not have a GPS tracking device installed, so you will need to be able to tell the 911 operator where you are. A mile marker or landmark is helpful.
Stay with your vehicle, if possible, especially at night or in bad weather. Wait for a uniformed law enforcement officer to arrive. Rely on the items in your road-side emergency kit to keep you hydrated, warm and entertained while you wait for assistance to arrive.
Keep doors and windows locked. If someone stops to assist you, crack the window and ask them to contact law enforcement. Use your best judgment accepting help from strangers.
When help arrives, if you are out of your vehicle discussing details, be sure to stand away from the vehicles, not in between them. Many people have been injured or worse when another driver has hit the back vehicle, driving the two together, crushing or amputating legs.
If you must walk, write down your name, date, time you left the vehicle and the direction you were going. Leave it on the dash. Walk facing traffic, if there are no sidewalks. If you accept a ride from a stranger, write down the plate number of the vehicle, a description of the driver and vehicle, in addition. Leave this information on the dash. As soon as possible notify law enforcement of the location and condition of your vehicle.
Holidays are the time of year when much long distance traveling is done. Going home to visit families, often leaving after work in the dark, and frequently encountering bad weather, can put travelers in jeopardy. Add to that the fact that tires can get punctures, gas tanks can get empty and engines can overheat when you least expect it. Having a road side emergency kit in your car at all times will often save you time and money, and may even save your life. We’ve expanded Edmunds.com’s extensive list of items to keep in your vehicle. Make sure that you include items to keep you and your passengers warm in case your break down leaves you stranded in the cold. Some of the basic items include:
- 12-foot jumper cables
- Four 15-minute roadside flares
- Two quarts of oil and Gallon of antifreeze
- First aid kit (including an assortment of bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors and aspirin)
- Wool blanket or sleeping bag
- Extra clothes and boots/shoes (for winter: coat, hat gloves and scarf)
- Extra fuses
- Flashlight and extra batteries, lighted headband or lighted brimmed cap
- Tools to include:Flat head screwdrivers, Phillips head screwdrivers, Pliers, Vise Grips, Adjustable wrench
- Tire inflator (such as a Fix-A-Flat) and Tire pressure gauge
- Rags and Roll of paper towels
- plastic garbage bags for trash and to help insulate feet
- A couple of old newspapers to use for insulation under coats
- Roll of duct tape and Roll of reflective tape for visibility
- Windshield washer fluid and Anti-freeze
- Ice scraper and kitty litter or sand for tire traction
- fire extinguisher (5 pound, A-B-C type)
- tow rope or chain
- Whistle, compass and Road maps
- Dollar bills and quarters, dimes and nickels
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- gas can, 2 gallon size plus funnel & short hose for siphoning
- hand warmer packs
- Pen and paper and Help sign or strip of white cloth
- Cell phone & charger
- Granola or energy bars – dried fruit, peanut butter crackers, canned goods; remember a manual can opener and basic eating utensils
- Bottled water – a case or a gallon as fits
- Book, puzzle or other non-battery operated item to pass the time
- Heavy-duty nylon bag or two to carry it all
The most important tip is to familiarize yourself with all the items in your car road-side emergency kit, how you have them arranged, and how to use them properly.